Marking a milestone of a ‘national’ 
golf club with a unique history

To mark the historic milestone, a busy schedule of activities was lined up and included social golf between KGNS members and friends, dignitaries and associates from clubs in the region

COURTESY OF GOLF MALAYSIA

It’s Golden Jubilee time for Subang National Golf Club (KGNS) and celebrations kicked off with the official launch of the 50th Anniversary logo and its theme “A Heritage from Yesterday, A Treasure for Tomorrow”.

Tengku Shamsul speaks passionately about the complicated nature of the ownership of the club and the land it’s situated on

The launch was by club president Tengku Datuk Shamsul Bahrin, together with VP Raymond Teoh Cheng Kooi, captain Ding Meng Sieng, and management committee comprising Jasvinder Singh Bhatt, Michael Hong Fuan Ken and Chandrasegaran Arumugam.

Tengku Shamsul, a club member from the very beginning, took an opportunity to look back on the history of the club and gave  insight into possibilities for the club as it moved forward.

Founded in 1968 by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister (PM), the club has the unusual distinction of being enacted by Parliament.

It took on the status of a “national” golf club and its membership has given Malaysians access to a special, tight-knit community that is truly representative of Malaysia.

Tengku Shamsul spoke passionately about the complicated nature of the ownership of the club and the land it’s situated on, and he hopes plans to iron out grey areas would be settled with the new government to protect the heritage KGNS represented.

To mark the historic milestone, a busy schedule of activities was lined up and included social golf between KGNS members and friends, dignitaries and associates from clubs in the region.

This was supplemented with squash, swimming, tennis and corporate social responsibility activities to benefit orphans in the Klang Valley and as a grand finale, a dinner with guests from golf governing bodies, affiliate clubs, sponsors and media.

Among the guests of honour were Tunku’s daughter Tunku Khadijah and Tunku Muinuddin Putra.

A look at the past reveals a club that was carved out of Seaport Estate, a rubber plantation.

Rubber trees were part of the landscape of the course initially, but no longer, regrettably for those who felt a few should have remained as a reminder of the “plantation” origin.

It was in 1963 that the idea of a golf course was mooted by Tunku, who led a committee, with the then Minister of Interior Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman as vice-chairman.

The honorary secretary was ED Cooper and other members, 20 in all, drawn from the Treasury, Public Works Department (PWD), Federal Capital Commission and even noted golfers.

The golf club came into being via an act of Parliament for the setting up of the Subang Golf Course Corp that later acquired land from Seaport Estate.

Initial work on the course was by Japanese architect SI Inouye. Also in the picture, Tom Verity, a golf professional who worked with the PWD engineers, Chew Choon Lee and Bobby Tan were assigned to build the course.

It was to take five years for the club to become reality. The course was officially opened on Sept 1, 1968 by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah as KGNS, replacing original name, Sungei Way Golf Course.

Membership, at the start, was capped at 400, but by April 1970, it stood at 1,070 with “a horde” on the waiting list. The current membership stands at 5,500.

The land matter, as alluded to by Tengku Shamsul, was centred on a lease, which had not been properly formalised and had resulted in a move to reclaim the land, given the prime location the area had become.

After a special task force was set up and protracted negotiations from 2011 to 2014, intervention of the then Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin, who took the matter to the Cabinet, secured a maximum lease period of 30 years, with an option for another 30.

From the beginning, the club aspired to hold big tournaments, such as the Malaysian Open, and a bid was made in 1970 by Tunku himself, after the Malaysian Golf Association had admitted KGNS as an affiliate, only to be told that the new golf course wasn’t quite ready for it.

But, ready it was in 1983 and then again in 1987, when the tournament did make its way to KGNS.

The Agong’s and Tunku’s nines, as the original 18 holes, were boosted by a second 18 named the Tun’s and Sultan’s nines in 1978 to make it a 36-hole course.

As the club now stands, it’s a far cry from the old clubhouse that was a wooden Seaport Estate manager’s bungalow located between the third and 15th holes. Three showers in an outhouse catered for the initial total membership of 500.

The club initially came under an 11-member Subang Golf Course, headed by Dr Ismail, with the then Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Harun Idris as vice chairman.

The pressure of increasing membership spawned plans for a new clubhouse and a striking Minangkabau-roofed building was opened by the late Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Halim Mu’adzam Shah in September 1971.

In the meantime, Tunku had stepped down as PM and departed for Jeddah in April that year to assume the post of secretary general of the Islamic Secretariat.

Dr Ismail became president of the club, but he passed away suddenly in 1973.

In his place, the new deputy PM Tun Hussein Onn (1973-1981), followed by Tun Musa Hitam (1981-1985). Thus, the tradition of the club’s president being the deputy PM was maintained.

But, the practice faded away from then on and individuals of stature from the government and private sectors took on the mantle.

All in all, KGNS has assured itself of not being just a mere footnote in the country’s growth and development of the game and nationhood.